A Mason spinal surgeon has been arrested on federal charges. While over 100 cases are involved in a lawsuit against him, some of his patients treated successfully are coming to his defense.
Federal and state health care fraud investigators arrested Abubakar Atiq Durrani, 44, of Mason.
His arrest stems from a federal complaint alleging that he convinced patients to undergo medically unnecessary spinal surgeries then billed private and public healthcare benefit programs for the fraudulent services.
Durrani owns a private practice called the Center for Advanced Spine Technologies (CAST) with offices in Evendale and Florence, Kentucky. Local attorney Eric Deters also says Dr. Durrani previously practiced at West Chester/UC Health and Journey Lite.
The complaint charges Durrani with one count of health care fraud and one count of making false statements in health care matters.
Deters has filed multiple cases against Dr. Durrani for unnecessary spine surgeries.
Patients involved in the lawsuit claim Dr. Durrani convinced them they needed spine and neck surgery. However, other doctors later determined those surgeries as unnecessary and damaging to the patient's health.
According to Deters' office, there are now 150 cases. Federal prosecutors say seven people were not satisfied with the care they received from Durrani.
Durrani appeared before a U.S. Magistrate in federal court on Thursday. He was released from custody until a preliminary hearing on Aug. 19, but must not leave the region and had to surrender his passport. He has to get special permission from the court to leave the country.
Durrani must also mail a letter to any patients that he has upcoming appointments with, stating the charges that have been brought against him.
Health care fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The crime of making false statements in health care matters is punishable by up to five years in prison.
One of Durrani's attorneys, Michael Lyon, told FOX19 in February: "Well, I've seen this. I've been defending doctors for 38 years. I've seen this in the past. We have several plaintiffs if you will, or patients, combined, and it's two things. It's a bandwagon effect, and it's a plaintiff's lawyer who is promoting and participating this action," said Lyon.
In addition, Durrani's defense attorneys say the federal complaint and civil lawsuits against their client do not take into consideration the thousands of people he has treated successfully.
Elizabeth Kerns of Latonia says the charges against Durrani are hard to swallow.
"I was driving and my sister told me he had been arrested. I had to pull over. I started shaking. I am devastated. I cannot believe anyone would charge him with anything like this," said Kerns.
She has had two surgeries performed by Dr. Durrani and says she's looking forward to having a third procedure in September.
"I am due to have another surgery, the SI fusion, on my right side, and I would never think of having any other surgeon do it."
That confidence in him was echoed by 18-year-old Kelcie Thomson who went in for treatment of a broken ankle. She tells FOX19 Durrani found a tumor eating away at the bone in her right arm.
"He told us that if I hadn't broken my ankle, and I had not gone to see him my arm could have shattered like glass because it was so thin," said Thomson.
Because of this experience, she finds the allegations against him hard to believe.
"I was shocked because the Durrani I know, he was a great man. He was very kind, very generous," said Thomson.
You can read the cases for yourself here-
Anyone suspecting health care fraud, waste or abuse can report it by calling the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General at 800-447-8477. To learn more about health care fraud prevention and enforcement go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov. Ohioans can report suspected instances of health care fraud to Attorney General DeWine's office by calling 1-800-282-0515.
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